R290 compact chiller units
The 900kW air-conditioning rack system from SCM Ref is made up of 30 propane-based modular compressor-condenser units. (Source: SCM Ref)

SCM Ref Builds 900kW Commercial AC Rack System Using 30 R290 Compact Chiller Units

SCM Ref, a Swedish assembly facility for parent Beijer Ref, has created a large 900kW (256TR) plug-and-play system for commercial HVAC applications using 30 of its 30kW (8.5TR) propane (R290)-based modular compact chiller units (CCU), according to a statement from the company.

In addition to providing air-conditioning while in chiller mode in the summer, the CCUs can also run as heat pumps and provide heating during colder months.

Each CCU can supply temperatures of 15 to -10°C (59 to 14°F).

While the manufacturer’s CCUs have been used in a few low-temperature applications, the majority of its installations have either been for medium- or high-temperatures.

“We have many medium-temperature refrigeration installations [using the CCU], which work very well, but most of the installations are for HVAC with excellent results,” said Jan Hedlund, Site Manager for SCM Ref.

Since launching the product in 2013, SCM Ref has delivered approximated 650 units, meaning the product is “well tested and verified,” he added.

According to Hedlund, theoretically there is no limit to how big customers can go with the company’s CCUs, with its largest project comprising 48 units in parallel, providing 1.4MW (398TR) of cooling capacity.

High COP with minimal charge

SCM Ref’s CCU is a compact liquid cooling system that is based on multichannel plate exchanger technology, explained H. Jessen Jürgensen, a Danish refrigeration wholesale company and partner of SCM Ref.

“The multichannel plate exchanger is an evaporator, condenser and liquid subcooler in one unit,” it said. “The unique design allows for a compact, energy-efficient liquid cooling system with high COP and a minimal refrigerant charge of only 1.45kg (3.2lb) of propane.”

Modular design

According to SCM Ref, their modular “slide-in-slide-out” approach ensures “minimal down time since every CCU can be removed, changed or serviced individually.”

This can also reduce installation and servicing time and costs, it added.

To create larger-capacity systems, multiple CCUs are connected in parallel on the liquid side, explained SCM Ref.

The company also manufactures rack stands, which are available for up to 12 of its connected CCUs and come fully wired with headers and internal wiring.

Increasing production

To meet growing demand for R290-based units, SCM Ref is increasing its production.

“We are seeing increasing interest from the market for R290 solutions,” said Hedlund. “The boom will soon be here, and we are prepared to ride the wave. We predict at least a 50% increase in volume from 2023 compared to 2022.”

“We are seeing increasing interest from the market for R290 solutions. The boom will soon be here, and we are prepared to ride the wave. We predict at least a 50% increase in volume from 2023 compared to 2022.”

Jan Hedlund, SCM Ref

He added that the company has recently launched a “frequency-regulated CCU” that can achieve higher efficiency levels, with a COP of 5.0 for HVAC applications.

Other R290-based products include its CVKP and Compacta Triaton, which are used as heat pumps for residential heating, he explained.

SCM Ref in Sweden is one of several production units under the SCM logo; others are in Italy, Thailand, the Netherlands and South Africa, all owned by Beijer Ref. Each has its own special interest, with the Swedish branch’s being R290 as well as CO2 (R744).

SCM Ref in Sweden also builds OEM units for the Scandinavian distributors within Beijer Ref. Italian manufacturer SCM Frigo is SCM Ref’s main technology provider for CO2. SCM Ref also produces SCM Frigo’s CUBO2Aqua for the Scandinavian market.

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